Alan Krilov, a member of the Chabad community who endured a harrowing experience during Hurricane Katrina, was interviewed on October 18, 2006 by Rosalind Hinton. Raised in an Orthodox synagogue, he shifted towards Chabad in later years, and explains his formative Jewish influences. He stayed in New Orleans to take care of his fourteen exotic pet birds, fleeing only after his home began to flood. He describes the many stages of his journey: unable to swim, he floated on an inflatable dinghy until being taken in by an alcoholic, who used their money for beer and lost their boat. He then took shelter in an abandoned school building, converted to emergency housing for 60 other people, before being airlifted to Lakefront Airport and then an international airport, which he estimated contained 10,000 people and one bathroom. After a series of traumatic experiences in the airport, he managed to hitchhike to an old friends’ home, and eventually rented a new house. Even after the flood his struggles continued: his home was ruined, the insurance agencies would not offer adequate compensation, $60,000 in inventory was lost, and needed to rebuild his consumer base with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Despite his travails, however, he speaks lovingly of the Jewish community and his first High Holidays service after Katrina. Highlights include his story of Rabbi Zelig Rivkin driving six houses from Houston, TX to deliver kosher Shabbat food, and his reflections on the importance of Judaism in his life.
This oral history was conducted by Rosalind Hinton for a joint project by the Jewish Women's Archive partnered with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) to capture the voices and experiences of members of the Jewish communities of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast communities during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. For more information, see katrina.jwa.org/about#about-oral-history